Sunday, May 19, 2013

French on a Budget at Saveur (Far East Plaza)

France is undeniably the country that has contributed the most to Gastronomy, so much so that Haute Cuisine and fine dining establishments around the world are dominated by French, French-inspired, or French fusion menus. For instance, a quick glance at the Singapore list of S. Pellegrino Asia's 50 Best Restaurants in 2013 shows that Seven of the top 10 are French!

Eating French in our area of the world is typically expensive as heck though, unless you make a trip to Saveur. It's a no frills establishment that (in their own words) offers quality yet affordable French cuisine to the masses. Can "Affordable" and "French cuisine" really exist in the same sentence? Let's find out!

The Soup of the Day is a Chicken Veloute with rilettes, foie gras butter and toast (SGD5.90). (A Veloute is a soup that's been thickened with egg yolks, butter and/or cream). Didn't taste this particular dish so I can't really comment on its' quality, but portion-wise it's rather small.

Saveur Budget French Cuisine Chicken Soup

Two servings of Foie Gras - Pan-seared duck liver served with creamy lentils & pickled pearl onion (SGD7.90) and with apple-infused port wine and vanilla bean (SGD9.90). We thought that the liver was seared and seasoned nicely and the accompanying ingredients were chosen well. Go for the former if you prefer a more savory flavor, or the latter if like a little sweetness. A point to note is that this is duck liver, so it's naturally less rich and fatty.

Saveur Budget French Cuisine Duck Liver Foie Gras

I'm not sure if Saveur's Pasta tossed with chilli oil, fine-chopped Japanese konbu & sakura ebi with minced pork sauce really qualifies as French cuisine. Nevertheless it's pretty good, and nicely portioned as a starter. Can't really find much fault with this especially considering the SGD4.90 price tag.

Saveur Budget French Cuisine Pasta with Konbu and Sakura Ebi

Our final starter, the Salmon Confit was likewise an absolute steal at just $9.90. Purists will probably be all "Sacrebleu!" at calling a piece of salmon a confit, but it's still a solid dish regardless. I don't think I've ever had Salmon cooked this well - soft, juicy and absolutely delicious.

Saveur Budget French Cuisine Salmon Confit

Moving on to the main courses, then, and we open up with a proper confit - Duck leg confit (SGD10.90). Unfortunately we did not enjoy this dish. Although the mashed potato was sinfully creamy, the duck leg was dry and excessively salty and a huge disappointment.

Saveur Budget French Cuisine Duck Confit

Ditto the Roulade of chicken thigh stuffed with foie gras-infused chicken farce, creamy basmati rice & parmesan sauce (SGD9.90). While the chicken and rice were pretty decently cooked, there simply wasn't anything outstanding enough to offset the small portion. Plus, basmati rice? In French Cuisine?

Saveur Budget French Cuisine Roulade of Chicken Thigh

Our Pork belly served with creamy green lentils, soft boiled egg & natural jus (SGD9.90) had a nice flavor profile, but was let down by somewhat poorly cooked meat (excessively firm) and a horrendously chewy skin.

Saveur Budget French Cuisine Pork Belly

I think it's somewhat telling that all four of us didn't have much mood for desserts despite being still a little hungry; but we did still order a Chocolate and Hazelnut (Chocolate mousse with crushed hazelnuts, broken raspberries, roasted rice puffs, chocolate tuile & praline, SGD7.90) to share. This dessert ended up being not too bad, actually, and came in a pretty sizeable portion.

Saveur Budget French Cuisine Chocolate and Hazelnut Dessert

So more misses than hits at this budget French joint. The total bill after taxes came up to about $108 for four pax - and to be honest at this price range we think that Saveur is actually pretty okay. We can totally see ourselves coming back for lunch or dinner if we happen to be in the area; but it's not good enough to purposely make a trip.

Saveur has two outlets - in Orchard and in Bugis. Operating hours are different at both outlets so check out their website before you visit. Non-halal.

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